Image of the WTS Mulder Chapel with rows of individuals listening to a male speaker.

Written by Dr. Tim Basselin, Director of Field Education and Student Life at Western Theological Seminary

At WTS, we care deeply about the formation of our students. The Abbey courses, Abbey retreat, and intensive courses are designed to foster whole-person formation, encouraging deep spiritual growth and meaningful connections among our students. Let’s delve into the transformative experiences that await you at Western.

The Abbey Courses: Cultivating Community and Spiritual Formation

At Western, we prioritize the holistic development of our students, and the Abbey courses play a crucial role in this endeavor. The Abbey is a required course for M.Div. students and is open to all students. 

Over the course of 6 semesters at the Abbey, a small group of 6-8 students led by a professor meet regularly to build a strong sense of community, explore spiritual disciplines, support one another, and engage in life together.

This intentional community fosters vulnerability, open dialogue, and attentiveness to the movements of the Spirit. Such practices are essential movements of the Spirit: essential practices for responding to the Triune God’s ongoing redemptive work in the world, as highlighted in our mission statement.

Students often express that these groups are the most formative aspect of their education, nurturing spiritual practices and lifelong friendships that continue to support them long after their time at Western has ended.

Abbey Retreats: Spaces for Spiritual Growth and Connection

Each semester, Abbey courses include a two-day retreat held in October and February. The Abbey retreat is open to all WTS students, even those not enrolled in an Abbey course. 

The Abbey retreats bring together distance learning and in-residence students, professors, and administration to practice, explore, and share their spiritual lives with one another. Every retreat revolves around a theme and provides ample opportunities for Abbey groups to deepen their connections with and demonstrate their care for one another.

While we recognize that committing to a small group for three years and attending two retreats in Holland each year may seem like a significant demand, these opportunities embody our dedication to whole-person formation.

The Intensives: Embracing Learning and Relationships

In addition to Abbey courses and retreats, WTS offers in-person intensive courses for those who are otherwise taking courses online. These courses further emphasize whole-person formation by recognizing the unique learning that occurs when students gather in a shared physical space. Sitting together in a classroom, sharing meals, and engaging in casual conversations alongside academic pursuits fosters deeper connections and enhances the educational experience.

Whether you are an in-residence or distance learning student, our goal is to develop meaningful relationships, create a sense of belonging, and provide supportive environments that encourage curiosity and connection throughout your journey of theological education.